For anyone who needs motivation to exercise, meet 100-year-old Les Savino who drives himself to the gym most days of the week for a three-hour workout.
“I don’t feel like going now that I’m 100, but I still go. I know that it’s necessary if I want to enjoy life. Most people at 100 no longer enjoy life. My days are just as normal as when I was 30,” Savino, who lives independently in Hanover, Pennsylvania, tells TODAY.com.
“Exercise is much better than medicine… A lot of people just live on pills, but I don’t. I take pills for high blood pressure and that’s the extent of it.”
Savino lifts weights on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. He uses 15 weight machines and does 45 reps on each, amounting to almost 700 reps per session.
Tuesdays and Thursdays are for cardio. When TODAY.com called, the great-grandfather had just finished riding 8 miles on a stationary bike, walking 2 miles on a treadmill and squeezing in some bonus leg, arm and shoulder exercises.
He’s been doing that routine at the Hanover Area YMCA since 1983, always arriving at 7:30 a.m. and finishing at 10:30.
“It makes me feel good,” Savino says. “When I leave the gym in the morning after my three hours of exercising, I feel much better than when I arrived. I have more flexibility and I just feel more motivated with life.”
Savino has never had a major illness like cancer or heart disease. But he’s been having balance problems in recent years due to Ménière’s disease, a disorder of the inner ear, and uses a walker.
The centenarian has a sharp mind and memory, chatting with ease and humor when a reporter called. He credits his incredible longevity to both good genes and a healthy lifestyle.
Here are some of the highlights from the conversation:
Be thankful for good genes
Both of Savino’s parents were born in Italy. “They came to this country very poor so they didn’t have many opportunities to go to doctors, but they survived extremely well,” he says.
His father lived to be 84 and his mother to 89.
Eat in moderation
Savino says he’s not much of a meat eater, preferring seafood and vegetables. He also enjoys making a frittata, an egg-based Italian dish, once a week.
“A lot of people just gorge themselves on food. I just eat (until) my appetite is satisfied and then I stop,” he notes.
“I don’t look for any special food. I order everything off the menu like everybody else. But for some reason, I don’t have much interest in steaks and meat.”
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For his 100th birthday in August 2022, Savino bought himself a car — a Lincoln sedan that he’d previously leased. He drives himself to the YMCA and to the grocery store for his weekly shopping.
The great-grandfather says he has “an extremely dangerous sweet tooth” and indulges it modestly. He has a small dessert at lunch and after dinner, enjoying a cookie, licorice or chocolate pudding.
Savino also has two martinis every night. “Nothing too extreme,” he says of his alcohol consumption. “I don’t think I’ve ever been drunk in my life.”
Spend time with people you love
Savino was married to his high-school sweetheart, Barbara, for 70 years. Both were first-generation Americans — he from an Italian family, she from an Irish one. Mrs. Savino passed away 11 years ago at the age of 89. “We made a good couple,” he says.
They had four children. The oldest is 77 but Savino still calls them “kids.”
The great-grandfather has also had close friends throughout his life and still enjoys making new ones when he works out.
"I am very much an optimist, always have been. I look at the bright side of things," he says.
Find work you love
Savino worked until he was 83 and didn’t want to retire, but did so because his constant business travel bothered his wife.
He spent his career in the food industry, getting a degree in food technology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1948. That was after he returned from military service during World War II, where he piloted B-17 heavy bombers.
When he came home, Savino worked for a corporation, then started his own consulting business, meeting with clients all over the world. “I loved it. I didn’t want to stop,” he says.
Stimulate your mind
It’s important to stay well informed and mentally involved, he says. Savino reads a lot, enjoying murder mysteries in particular because they’re challenging.
He’s always had hobbies, including creating stained glass, and building and refinishing furniture.
Take care of your body
Savino says he always watched his diet, lived a clean life and exercised. He never smoked.
“Every time I have my physical, the doctor says, 'I don’t know why you’re here.' That’s a good feeling,” he notes.
“I know I am lucky. That’s why I keep on doing what I’m doing. If I don’t feel like going to the gym, I go anyway because the gym has paid me back many times.”
Keep yourself on the smart side of life
“If you’re smart, then you live a clean life. You have to know what you can do that’s good for you,” Savino advises.
“If you develop a healthy lifestyle, you’ll go through life enjoying it. If you enjoy life, it preserves you. You want to keep on going. Here I am at 100. I don’t want to stop.”